A road trip in South Africa - 09 May 2009

Me, Lindsey, two dogs, two oceans, a wedding and kilometers of empty roads, driving through a beatiful country.

Four days on the Indian Ocean

At Mes Amis, in Wilderness I never spent much time on the southern coasts of South Africa, and neither did Lindsey. We spent a lot of time in researching the ideal place that would allow us to stay with our dogs, possibly by the sea, and we found the perfect match in the Mes Amis guest house. Still, while driving from Cape Town to Wilderness, via some mountain and some sections of the Garden Route, we had some doubts. With Bruce in a cast that wasn't allow to get wet, would we still enjoy a hotel on the beach? Would we still be able to walk by the sea, with our dogs, and generally relax, as we planned?

We had a lot of questions that filled our long stage of the trip (around 6 hours to get there!), but we were literally blown away by the place and the owners. Gerhard, the owner of Mes Amis, moved here from Germany many years ago. He decided to adapt the big house on the ocean to a guest house, and the final outcome was spectacular.

At Mes Amis, in WildernessLuckily the place wasn't literally on the sea, but on a small cliff with access to the private beach via a long, wooden staircase.

They gave us a room at the end of the building, with a garden so our dogs could stay there, isolated from other guests. The room was very comfortable and so were the bed, and the only noise you could hear were the waves constantly breaking on the beach below. We arrived there around 10pm, very tired, and after a quick tour of the house (an honesty bar with cheap prices and snacks was available in the common area) we literally collapsed on the bed.

At Mes Amis, in Wilderness At Mes Amis, in Wilderness At Mes Amis, in Wilderness

The next morning, after a fantastic breakfast, we took our dogs on the beach, after tying a plastic bag around Bruce's injured leg. He still wasn't allowed to run freely on the beach, but at least he enjoyed the walks with us. The whole beach was stretching for kilometres, but the amount of tourists was limited (the Easter break was behind the corner) and so we could enjoy it all for ourselves. Swimming was a bit difficult, for someone like me who generally swims only in pools and lakes, but nonetheless was nice to dip in an ocean warmer than the Atlantic.

We tried to do as much as possible, but with two dogs with us we soon realized that most of the attractions, included the entry to the national park, were forbidden. We drove on the nearby mountains to visit the Map of Africa, a curious natural formation that reminds the southern section of the Africa's continent. Almost all the restaurants didn't allow dogs, but we found some places that let us stay there with two grumpy and racist dogs (by now they just wanted to go home).

At Mes Amis, in WildernessAt Mes Amis, in Wilderness At Mes Amis, in Wilderness

It was relaxing. Sure, I still had to do some work at night and during the napping time, but it was worth it.

The final night Gerhard provided us with a gigantic and delicious steak and a small barbecue. We sat by the pool with Cucciola and Bruce sleeping on the deck chair, and enjoyed our final meal in Mes Amis.

Then, it was time to start our long journey back home. We said goodbye to the place and the owners, hoping to come back some other time, and started our long drive through the small Karoo e and the exceptional Swartberg pass. Driving through the long pass, in a sunny day, surrounded by such old rock formation, in a deep narrow valley, was probably the best moment of my driving sessions.

The pass was quite long but it was literally mesmerizing. You don't find many countries in the world where you can drive through a pass and meet monkeys roaming freely around you. Like some sort of Switzerland with an African climate.

We reached Kimberley, for our Shari-stop many hours later, and after a good night or rest (thank to Shari who also cooked a delicious roast), we left to face our final leg: Kimberly - Johannesburg.

Swartberg passSwartberg pass Swartberg pass

On the way to Johannesburg, after spending our final cash on drinks and food, we managed to get to the toll gate and be forced to drive back 50km because they wouldn't accept any card, debit or credit, to pay the tollgate fee. Lindsey at that moment had to replace me as a driver because I was so incredibly upset with the local idiot attendant at the station that I was very close to commit murder. The girl didn't even try to swipe my card and when I asked to talk with the supervisor just closed her little window and disappeared, leaving me with no other choice than reverse through ha queue of few cars in the same situation and a very angry truck.

Luckily, with Lindsey now driving home, I could let my blood flow streams better and relax, and, few hours later, we finally arrived at home, with a dog in the cast, another still car sick (Cucciola spent the whole trip hiding behind the passenger's sit, a very upset Italian and a very tired wife).
But, after quickly downloading and seeing all these pictures again, we realized that we truly spent 2 great weeks, driving around in a beautiful country.

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